Ohio city attorney launches another attack on firearms preemption

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

Columbus, Ohio City Attorney Zach Klein is intent on overturning the state’s firearm preemption law, and though he’s been stymied in his efforts to date he’s launching yet another lawsuit in a bid to undo state statute and let cities like Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus implement their own local infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.


The preemption fight has been going on for months in Columbus, where the city council enacted several local ordinances that are in direct conflict with the firearms preemption law. While two local judges in the area have allowed those ordinances to remain in place, a third judge granted an injunction three weeks ago that keeps the ban on 30+ round magazines and gun storage mandate from being enforced while Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s legal challenge continues. Now Klein is firing back with a lawsuit of his own, seeking not only to enforce the recently approved ordinance, but to overturn another state law approved by the legislature last year.

The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday as enhanced safety measures in the Short North were announced, also challenges a 2022 state law that bars local authorities from declaring emergencies that would require the temporary closure of businesses in a given area for health or safety concerns, including gun stores. Klein’s office said the city believes this ban threatens public safety during a state of emergency.

Should a Franklin County judge — most of whom are politically affiliated with the Democratic party, including some Republicans who have flipped Democratic — side with the city in the lawsuit, it “could open the door for real conversations on how best to reduce gun violence, encourage responsible gun ownership and deploy safety strategies that would work best in Columbus,” Klein said.

Those measures include gun-free zones in districts like the Short North, city parks and community events where large crowds might gather.

“Where there is a mix of alcohol, heavy traffic and high volumes of people aren’t places where we need more guns,” Klein said.

At a press event in the Short North on Thursday, Klein said state legislators are “obstructionists” and need to “get the hell out of our way” if they are intent on barring communities from passing laws the state will not.


Yeah, nothing says “I’m serious about dealing with violent crime” like blaming legal gun owners and seeking to strip them of their ability to protect themselves from violent encounters.

Given that Klein wants to declare large swathes of the city “gun-free zones,” and deprive people of the ability to acquire a firearm for personal protection during a state of emergency lawmakers are right to obstruct his plans. The entire reason for Ohio’s firearms preemption law is to avoid having a patchwork quilt of contradictory, competing, and (in some cases) unconstitutional gun ordinances that might wildly vary from one locale to the next. What’s allowed in Bexley, Ohio might be illegal across the street in Columbus, and gun owners could easily become ensnared and entrapped by a laundry list of local ordinances they have no way of knowing about as they travel between communities.

For anti-gunners like Klein, that’s a feature and not a bug of ending firearms preemption. By making it more legally dangerous for individuals to lawfully bear arms in self-defense, some Ohioans will decide its simply not worth the risk. The state legislature and the AG are right to oppose Klein’s ineffective and unconstitutional attempts to fix the city’s crime woes by going after legal gun owners, but until the Ohio Supreme Court weighs in and once again upholds the state law Klein and his anti-gun allies in city government in Cleveland and Cincinnati are going to keep treading all over the self-defense and Second Amendment rights of residents.


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